Most Wanted Pacman

So Pacman gets to be the fall guy for the NFL’s new unkinder, not gentle personal conduct policy. If you’re an NFL fan, you love this. You love it because every NFL story written in the past six months has mentioned Pacman’s PHD in Thuggery. You especially love it if you’re a fan of the Colts, Texans, and Jags.

If you’re a Titans fan, this is a disaster. The Titans have lost one of their few playmakers. Go ahead, name three Titan playmakers. You have Vince Young, Keith Bulluck, and, um, Rob Bironas? David Givens tore his ACL, meniscus, and broke a bone in his knee. He had to have bone plugs, which apparently are worse than hair plugs.

Wait, this is an NFL-based column. I went a whole paragraph without talking about Pacman. I’m out of the union. Sometimes a person has to hit rock bottom before they can change. Pacman’s going to have a real opportunity to either become exactly who everyone thinks he is, or he will turn his life around and come back to the Titans at the Pro Bowl level of 2006.

I’m not holding my breath. How many players have come back after a year suspension? Ricky Williams is trying to make the shift after a year in the CFL. It doesn’t matter if he never smokes a joint again in his life. He’s the guy who smoked the multi-million dollar joint.

Part of me thinks that the NFL is being too harsh on Pacman. He hasn’t been convicted for anything since college. He had a breakout season. In four months he went from draft bust to a near-miss Pro Bowl berth. If it weren’t for the negative press, he would have played in Hawaii.

Let’s compare our All-Pro Thug with another NFL legend. Leonard Little killed a fellow driver in an alcohol-fueled crash in 1998. He was suspended for eight games. He was pulled over for another DUI in 2004, but the charges were dropped. I couldn’t find any evidence of a suspension.

With all that in mind, Pacman had to fall. The NFL was desperate to show itself as the tough, strong league. They can brush the supplement/drug issue under the table. They can also take advantage of fans’ short-attention spans by announcing the schedule tomorrow. That is no coincidence.

Message boards immediately blazed with comments like “he will never serve the entire suspension.” Have you ever heard of an NFL suspension being shortened? If a player fails a drug test, they get four games off. No question. Pacman is gone. He can spend more time with his daughter, or hang out at his house in Nashville, or Atlanta, or the condo in Miami. Relax. Stay in shape. Stay out of the press.

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